Where being too social is suspicious

One hopes that this is not a sign of the less civicly engaged times….

Facebook has reportedly booted off some of their users who were, get this, too social.  Apparently their software identified these users as behaving suspiciously.

Eliabeth Coe got booted after she sent friends and professional acquaintances a link to her company’s Web site when they thought she was spamming.  She had to endure the Facebook-addict equivalent of Siberian exile — 31 days without being logged on.

Lisa Shane was organizing a high school reunion on facebook, when she got booted off for sending the same messages to more than 200 people. She was locked out of her account, contacts, RSVP list and details about the venue  one week before the reunion.

The Post reports that “Others have been kicked off the popular site for adding too many friends at once; sending too many messages; joining too many groups; or “poking” too many friends, a casual greeting on the site. Shunned Facebookers said the punishment contradicts the site’s core mission — to help people connect and communicate.”

In defense of Facebook, with 100 million users, they do have to battle an increasing amount of spam, fake messages and links, some generated by bots and malware. The Post notes that “About 64 large-scale spam attacks have been reported on social networking sites over the past year, and 37 percent of users have noticed an increase in unwanted messages in the past six months, according to Cloudmark, a Web security company.”

But we fear that the backdrop of lower levels of social capital makes any highly social individual appear “suspicious.”     On the positive side, maybe “necessity will be the mother of invention” and the Elizabeth Coes of the world can learn that it actually may be a lot more effective trying to make friends the horse-and-buggy era way of actually calling people and getting together.

See Washington Post story, “A Social Network Where You Can Be Too Social” (Kim Hart, 9/4/08).

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